Brit leader warns against 'unthinking sinophobia'

Top News | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 15 Jan 2021

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned against anti-Chinese sentiment, despite renewing strong criticism about Beijing's actions and policies.

"I don't want this country or this government to lurch into a position of unthinking sinophobia," he told the heads of parliament's select committees.

"There's a balance to be struck."

Britain has angered China by denouncing the implementation of the controversial national security law in Hong Kong.

It has offered Hongkongers a route to citizenship by relaxing entry requirements for those with British National (Overseas) passports.

Britain has also blocked the involvement of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in its 5G network, bowing to US pressure, which assessed the firm as a security risk.

And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has condemned what he said was the "barbarism" of China's treatment of its Uygur minority in northwest Xinjiang province.

Britain has now introduced import controls on firms which may have directly or inadvertently sourced goods from the province using forced Uygur labor, prompting an angry response from Beijing, which warned Britain to stop meddling in its internal affairs.

But Johnson told lawmakers that despite having to be vigilant, particularly about threats to critical national infrastructure and data from cyberspace, bilateral ties could be maintained.

"I want a world in which we're able to have good relations with China, where we're able to interact freely with China and speak frankly to China," he said. "Speaking frankly and calling out human rights abuses should not stop us from having a productive relationship, where that is possible."

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